On 10 December, 2009, 73 members of the House sent a letter to the White House urging the President to add one billion dollars in funding for international family planning to his 2011 budget.
Advocates of family planning are hardly a new phenomenon. What was interesting about this letter, however, is that it cites ‘climate change’ as a reason to advocate lower birth rates.
“Family planning”, members of the house wrote, “should be part of larger strategies for climate change mitigation and adaption. Slower population growth will make reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions easier to achieve.”
Time to decrease the surplus population
The 73 Congressmen who signed that letter were not alone in linking birth rates with global temperatures. Indeed, an impressive array of Western organizations have recently jumped on the bandwagon, including the Sierra Club, The United Nations Population Fund, the Population Connection and The National Wild Life Federation. The latter organization has written on their website that
“Rapid and unchecked human population growth and the resulting increases in resource consumption lie at the heart of most, if not all, environmental problems. Global warming is no exception. The unprecedented increase in human numbers is paralleled by the highest levels of fossil fuel consumption and greenhouse gas production in history.”
Save the planet with a one-child-only policy
Despite the recent surge of attention to the alleged link between population growth and global warming, it was left to the Chinese to broach the subject at the recent Copenhagen conference on climate change.
The Chinese government’s delegation at the conference argued that their own one-child-only-policy should “serve as a model for integrating population programs into the framework of climate change adaptation.”
Zhao Baige, vice-minister of National Population and Family Planning Commission of China population program told other delegates that China’s policy of forced population control “has made a great historic contribution to the well-being of society.”
The communist delegates cited the United Nation’s own 2009 State of World Population report, which suggests that if the global population could remain at 8 billion by the year 2050 (it is currently projected to increase to just over 9 billion), “it might result in 1 billion to 2 billion fewer tons of carbon emissions”.
Though China leads the world in CO2 emissions, the red nation has been praised for their contribution to the world’s ecology. Representative of the United Nations Population Fund, Sven Burmester, said, “China has had the most successful family planning policy in the history of mankind in terms of quantity and with that, China has done mankind a favour.”
Canada’s Financial Post also praised China for their contribution to the world ecology. “Despite its dirty coal plants,” wrote the Canadian equivalent of America’s Wall Street Journal, “[China] is the world's leader in terms of fashioning policy to combat environmental degradation, thanks to its one-child-only edict.” The paper calls China’s solution a “simple” and “dramatic” fix that would reduce global population by 50 percent by 2075. (For more about China's one-child-policy, see 'China Bound: The Junk Science Behind Its One-Child Policy' from the latest Salvo).
From politically correct to incorrect
Population control is not a mere eastern innovation but has an impressive pedigree among the sages of the West. In fact, up until the early 20th century, it was politically fashionable for liberals to talk about decreasing the surplus population. 20th century advocates of population control would often draw on the social theories of men like of Sir Francis Galton and Thomas Malthus who, a century earlier, had argued that the poor were draining the world’s recourses. (One of Malthus’s solutions was to reduce the surplus population by introducing policies specifically designed to bring death to large numbers of peasants. For example, he encouraged poor people to move near swamps, because he knew that they would catch diseases there and begin dying off.)
Throughout the 20th century, Malthusian ideas on population control were linked to theories of eugenics and social Darwinism. It was not until Hitler tried to move these ideas out of the anthropology classroom and into the gas chamber that population control stopped being a politically correct topic. (See my article, ‘Social engineering and the dark side of the American Left.’)
Politically correct again
It wouldn’t take long for the sceptre of Hitler to wear off. Following the huge birth explosion that occurred in the mid to late 20th century, population control gradually returned to the national limelight. But this time, instead of being explicitly linked to theories like eugenics and social Darwinism, it was propelled by the emerging ideology of environmentalism.
While it was still not politically correct to appeal to social planners like Galton and Malthus, the basic concern that these men shared resurfaced, namely, that there will be a demographic Armageddon if human beings continue to expand while the resources on earth continue to be limited. Thus, it became politically correct to once again advocate population control. (Some of the many advocates of population control during this period are cited in my article ‘From Rousseau to the swine flu vaccine.’)
Back to being politically incorrect
As the 20th century wore on, however, something happened to change the tide once again. Like the notorious beech dwellers in Dr. Seuss’ story The Sneetches, who keep switching from wanting stars on their bellies to no stars, in the 80s liberals decided that it was no longer respectable to advocate population control.
The key factor this time was not that the world’s population had stopped growing, but that it stopped growing in the West. (Many factors contributed to this. It became the fashionable thing for women to marry late, while books like The Feminine Mystique helped to make women feel guilty if their greatest ambition was to be a wife and mother. This, together with the rise in abortion and homosexuality, meant that the birth rate in the West began to steadily decline.)
This fact alone would not have been sufficient to change the direction of the population debate, seeing that the international birth rate continued to increase. However, during the late 20th century the sceptre of racism loomed large in the background of almost every debate. You can be sure that it didn’t take long before people began realizing that if Western populations were decreasing while non-western populations were increasing, and if the former are primarily white while the later are primarily brown, then calling for a lower international birth rate is equivalent to calling for less brown babies.
Thus it was that population control became politically incorrect once again. The liberal journalist Anthony Browne lamented this shift in his book The Retreat of Reason:
Now that the population of the West has stopped growing, concern about overpopulation has become very unfashionable because, as Tony Benn put it, it means wanting fewer brown babies. The combination of Western guilt and fear of racism has all but killed off public concern about overpopulation in the last few decades.
And back again
Browne was writing in 2006, even as the wheels of one more paradigm shift began to slowly turn. Thanks to the increase hysteria about global warming, it recently became politically correct to again talk about decreasing the surplus population. After all, it is the human beings, and not the polar bears, who are the leading emitters of CO2. Just follow the guilty trail of carbon footprints back to the source and you will see who the real enemies are. As the United Nations Population Fund writes on their website,
Greenhouse gases would not be accumulating so hazardously had the number of earth's inhabitants not increased so rapidly, but remained at 300 million people, the world population of 1,000 years ago, compared with 6.8 billion today.
I first realized that there was a connection between global warming and a renewed interest in population control when I came across a report commissioned by the Optimum Population Trust in August 2009. Titled, ‘Fewer Emitters, Lower Emissions, Less Cost,’ the report argued that the best way to combat global warming is to reduce the surplus population through contraception and abortion. The utilitarian logic of Malthus was simple: less people = less polluters.
It is not that the self-appointed environmental gurus are no longer concerned about things like CO2 emissions. Far from it. But many would like us to follow the guilty trail of carbon footprints back to their sources. Who uses all the fire extinguishers, compressed gases, refrigerators and heated swimming pools that continually pollute our environment? It’s not the polar bear.
Put bluntly, the earth has a surplus population of polluters and those polluters are the human population. To many, this is so obvious that only deniers who “motivated by religious-right attitudes” could think otherwise. At least, that is what Morris Sullivan has argued in his article ‘Population Control: How Many Are Too Many?’ “In a world that currently wrestles with such serious problems as global warming” he writes, “it's hard to imagine anyone opposing restraints on population controls. However, such people exist.”
From Global Warming to Sex Education
Even with the fate of planet earth supposedly hanging in the balance, Western nations are a long way off from advocating the forced abortion policies of China. Nevertheless, global warming is increasingly put forward as a reason for increasing the availability of contraception, abortion, sex education and family planning services. The National Wildlife Federation, for example, has published a Population and Global Warming Fact Sheet, calling for better “family planning and related health care and education.” “Providing these services,” they write, “will not only reduce poverty and improve the lives of many, it will reduce the danger of climate change and other environmental stressors.” (Also see John Vidal’s article, ‘Rich nations to offset emissions with birth control’ and Michael S's article, ‘The Population Control Agenda Behind The Global Warming Movement')
Learning from the polar bear
From vanishing arctic ice to an alleged decrease in the polar bear population, we are constantly being told the litany of things that global warming is allegedly responsible for.
While not wanting to grudge the polar bear his ice, Homo sapiens should at least be somewhat concerned. They should be concerned, not primarily because ice is melting, but because global warming – or at least the idea of it – is responsible for a renewed interest in population control. If history shows us anything, it is that when a civilization begins to feel guilty for existing, the results are not always pleasant. And it is at times like that when I begin to envy the polar bear. When he stands there proud and erect on his iceberg, he does not feel guilty for being alive.
He does not even feel guilty for procreating with Mrs. Polar Bear. And he would certainly have not taken the following add (pulled from Salvo's new online collection)very seriously.